Why don't we include a 2nd high school campus in Bond 2022?
In education, the industry standard is that a school is considered over capacity when it is at 120%. The reason for that overage is that in order to justify opening a new campus, staffing it, powering it, etc, you have to have enough students to populate that school and not be running 2 schools at 50%. Population and Survey Analysts (PASA), conducted a comprehensive demographic study for Willis ISD in 2019 and 2021. The data and recommendations from PASA show us what our projected enrollment is year to year, and when that campus will reach the 120% over capacity threshold. This information was presented to the Long Term Planning Committee for them to use as a basis for driving decisions on what to include in Bond 2020, and now, Bond 2022. Below are some graphics that illustrate this information.
Districtwide Projections: Enrollment is projected on a slow, moderate and fast growth scenario. We are in the moderate to fast growth area. The 21-22 projection for enrollment was 8,477 students. As of Feb. 7 we have 8,576 students. We will probably see that go up as the spring housing market picks up. Willis ISD is projected to reach over 14,000 students by 2030.
Projected Resident Students: This chart has campus populations highlighted in yellow to show the year that a campus is predicted to exceed the 120% capacity threshold. Elementary 6, which was part of Bond 2015, ended up going on hold for a year due to slower growth at that time. In 2019, Turner Elementary was predicted to be over capacity in 2021-22. That is why Lagway Elementary construction was delayed and not opened until August 2021. The opening of Lagway pushes our next elementary need to 2026-27. Brabham Middle School will reach 120% in 2025-26. Bond 2022 will add a fine arts addition (band and choir) to Lynn Lucas Middle School. This expansion will add capacity and bring the campus offerings in line with the addition Brabham received in the 2015 bond. Willis High School was originally showing over capacity for this 21-22 school year. That is why the 2015 bond explored how to relieve the high school capacity. The committee considered a ninth grade center or a second high school, but ultimately what was deemed most valuable to our students was to add a Career & Technology Center. The CTE also also brings great value to our students who are looking to either enter the workforce immediately after high school, or who want to have a specific trade or skill to work as they attend college. The other factor is that we were not yet considered a moderate or fast growth district in 2015. So adding a 2nd high school would have been very difficult to run financially without having enough students to fill it. Willis High School has a base capacity of 2,400. The CTE Center added 600 student capacity. Together, WHS and CTE provide an overall capacity of 3,000 students. The current enrollment at WHS is 2,503. As of this report from PASA in Spring 2021, Willis High School is predicted to reach 120% capacity in 2028-29. Right now we are trending just above moderate growth rate. That could change, but for now we are at least 6 maybe 7 years out from being able to fully occupy and justify running a 2nd high school. None of this means we don’t agree that the halls are tight or that it seems crowded. However, right now construction costs are extremely high. We will not start on Elementary #7 for about 2 years. That gives time for construction costs to recover. But, we knew that we didn’t want to come back to taxpayers for a bond in 2 years for one school, and then turn around in another 2 years and ask for a high school. The committee ultimately decided that making all three of those schools happen in 2 bonds was better than 1 very high priced bond or 3 bonds back to back.
Long-Range Planning Timeline: The final illustration is a summary of the long-range plan. This provides a concise overview of our next 10 years of building needs.